Estate planning isn't the cheeriest subject, so it's no surprise that only 35 percent of Americans even have a will, according a recent survey from Lawyers.com. And that number has been declining. The survey authors think that's due, at least in part, to the economic downturn, which has people more focused on short-term savings than long-term planning.
Ally Bank doesn't offer estate-planning services, but because it's primarily a financial issue, we want to make sure you have the facts.
The experts we've talked to say that if you want the people you love to inherit your money with a minimum of hassle, taxes and legal intervention when you take your final bow, you need to brush up on the basics of estate planning.
For some people - often those with relatively uncomplicated property ownerships - a good will is all you need. For others - including those with a significant amount of wealth, those with children who are minors, or those who think would-be heirs might challenge the arrangements - trusts may be a better idea.
For many people, the best way to do this is by working with a lawyer or another expert who knows all the ins and outs of your state's laws. To find someone in your area trained in estate planning, you might visit Estate Planning Answers from the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils.
It's also possible to do some estate planning yourself. For example, Nolo Press, which estimates people can pay as much as $2,000 getting a will or trust pulled together with an estate-planning expert, sells do-it-yourself books and software that cost $70 or less.
Ally Bank offers many products - including individual retirement accounts (IRAs), certificates of deposit (CDs), and money market accounts - with interest rates that are consistently among the best in the country.
Visit AllyBank.com for more information or give our customer care department a call at 877-247-ALLY (2559), where live assistance is available anytime, 24/7.